Mike Hartnett: Plenty to chew on heading into final weekend of Derby prep races

Mike Hartnett: Plenty to chew on heading into final weekend of Derby prep races
Mike Hartnett's Racing Roundup

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What a terrific trio of Kentucky Derby prep races we witnessed last week.

Heading into the final weekend of prep races, there's so much to think about following Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial and the Santa  Anita Derby.

You have to start with Justify's performance. The Santa Anita Derby was just his third career race, and he shined while defeating the talented Bolt d'Oro in Southern California. Justify is strong and gifted and could be on the verge of a memorable Triple Crown campaign, but he did enjoy some easy fractions during his powerful win. He might not have it so easy at Churchill.

And you can't rule out Bolt, as this guy is game every time out. Good Magic is back to his winning ways following a solid victory at Keeneland, and last year's 2-year-old champ is back in the conversation as far as major players go.

That brings us to Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso. Before this triumph, Vino was not really in anybody's Derby top ten list, but he is now. The Todd Pletcher-trained runner bounced back at Aqueduct after a rather dull effort in the Tampa Bay Derby in his previous start.

This race was a significant step forward for Vino Rosso, but to me, even more significant was the decision by the colt's jockey, John Velazquez, to stick with the Wood winner for the Kentucky Derby. I mean Johnny V. pretty much always has his pick of the Pletcher contenders. The jock selected Vino over a pair of Pletcher standouts: Florida Derby winner Audible and Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy. Also in Pletcher's stable is Magnum Moon, the 8-5 favorite heading into Saturday's Arkansas Derby. In other words, it's good to be Todd Pletcher, as his barn appears loaded for the first Saturday in May.

Speaking of this Saturday, we have the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. This race features My Boy Jack, who has sort of been hanging around the top 15 list of contenders during the winter and early spring. Jack, who despite being six wide battled to a third-place finish in last month's thrilling Louisiana Derby, needs Derby points as he is currently 21st on the board.

For what it's worth, here's my latest Fab Five before this weekend's final Derby preps:

1. Bolt d'Oro
2. Justify
3. Mendelssohn
4. Vino Rosso
5.Audible

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